Police in Thailand on Tuesday arrested 14 Vietnamese who they said might have been working in the country without any permit.
The Vietnamese, between 14 and 50 years of age, were taken into custody after police received a report that a group of passengers was making noise on a train that was about to leave Udon Thani Province in the northeast of Thailand.
They tried to mix into Thai passengers or hide in the toilets when officers checked the train.
Initial investigation found none of them carried a legal work permit.
Nguyen Van Long, 40, from the central province of Ha Tinh, said they came to Thailand in July last year to look for jobs at restaurants in Bangkok and nearby areas.
They were coming home for the Tet Lunar New Year festival, which peaks February 8 this year.
Long said they planned to take the train to Nong Khai Province bordering Laos and then take a bus from Laos to Vietnam.
A visa waiver policy allows people in Southeast Asia to move from one country to another freely and stay there for up to 30 days, with just a valid passport.
Figures from Thailand showed that between 50,000 and 100,000 Vietnamese, most of them from Vietnam’s impoverished central region, are working in Thailand illegally.
The two countries have been discussing a labor pact that allows Vietnam to officially send workers to Thailand soon.